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Dan Johnson returns to the Rays as a knuckleball pitcher

Dan Johnson

Toronto Blue Jays’ Dan Johnson rounds second base after his two-run home run during the seventh inning of a spring exhibition baseball game in Lakeland, Fla., Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


1B/DH Dan Johnson hasn’t been seen in the majors much lately -- he has just 105 plate appearances over the last four seasons -- but he is still remembered for his penchant for timely hitting. Johnson delivered a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Game 162 of the 2011 season, which helped the Rays get into the playoffs.

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Johnson also delivered a game-tying, ninth-inning home run for the Rays back in 2008 against the Red Sox.

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Johnson is back with the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported on Saturday, but not as a hitter. As a knuckleball pitcher. The veteran inked a minor league deal with the Rays and will work with pitching coordinator Charlie Haeger.

“It’s not the first time I’ve tried this out but this is the first time I feel like I can take it seriously,’' he said. “This is the time. I’m 36 and ready to go on this.’'

R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays and Steven Wright of the Red Sox are the only major league knuckleballers at the moment. If he gets the chance to get back to the big leagues, Johnson would be joining a small group of pitchers.

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